When I was about eight years old, I must have done something right at school, because a nun gave me a luminescent rosary.
I found it so much more mystical than the silver rosary I’d carried at my First Holy Communion, or the Austrian crystal beads my mother always kept in her pocket.
My rosary collected sunlight. Can you imagine? It soaked the shine right off the sun, and kept it until I wanted to see it. If I cupped it in my hands, it would glow as soon as I opened my fingers. If I took it out at night, it let God see that I was praying, even though the lamp in my room had been turned off. It kept me from fearing the dark.
I kept that Rosary for years… and then I didn’t. It went the way of the Scapulars that looked uncool when worn with a stylish blouse, and the Blessed Medals that gave way to pearls. It went unbidden as I questioned the value of prayer by rote, and rebelled by addressing the Lord extemporaneously, off script in my own sloppy words.
It disappeared… and although I never thought about it, so did the security of a child who could hold the light. I became a woman who was often in the dark. Often afraid. Often reciting prayers without certainty that Someone was paying attention.
And then one day, as I carried groceries across the parking lot of a supermarket, I looked to the ground and saw a plastic luminescent Rosary.
I picked it up immediately, and cupped it in my hands. Then I opened my fingers ever-so-slightly, and I peeked inside.
There it was.
It wasn’t as bright as the rosary of my youth, but it still held on to the light of the sun, so it could shine for me whenever I was alone… whenever I was afraid. I took it to my car, and wrapped it around my rear-view mirror. There it stays, soaking in the brilliance of long rides with my kids… sharing in the laughter of private jokes with my husband… listening to my rants whenever I am alone… swaying as I sing with the radio… glowing gently when the sun goes down, so I never drive in the dark.
I have other Rosaries… wooden ones that smell like roses… crystal ones that gleam in the light… even one that’s made of darkest onyx, as hefty and black as the worries about which I pray.
But none is as special, as beloved, as trusted and as needed as my little plastic Rosary… the one that holds the light at its core, and makes me feel that the Light of the World is never far from my hands.